THE MYTH OF “UNEARNED PRIVILEGE”

“I recognize the manifestation of undeviating Justice in all the circumstances of my life.”

  • Qabbalistic Tarot affirmation

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Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women (at least she was when she stated the following) referred to privilege, specifically “White male privilege” as “an invisible package of unearned assets..”

The general belief around the “privilege” of critical theory is that a dominant culture existing anywhere is wrong or “unjust” (although this value judgement tends to be selectively applied only to certain groups..). It is the idea that the undeniable fact of reality that the people whose ancestors played the largest role in founding the society they live in will shape that society in their image… is somehow wrong or “unfair”.  But again, it tends to only be seen as unfair when it pertains to the “privilege” of certain groups.

In truth, the whole idea of “unearned privilege” is antithetical to the Principle of Cause and Effect; the Natural Law that states we reap what we sow; the Law that is always in effect.  The only equality that truly exists is through the indiscriminate nature of the Laws of Nature and Creation, and that we all equally exist as part of it.

The people who use other Laws for selfish or tribal reasons at the expense of others, got whatever they got because they “earned” it in one way or another. You may not agree with the way they got it or kept it, but the Law of Manifestation is not a respecter of persons- and it always works.  One can argue if it’s “fair”, but fairness itself is a pretty relative concept;- fair to whom and in what way and what expense?

The billionaires of this world would argue that they deserve what they have because they did what needed to be done to grow their wealth and perhaps more importantly, keep it– and it’s really hard to logically argue with that.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.”

Men we would see as “evil” are ultimately used for the evolution of humanity just as much as the “good ones”.

As an aside, the assumption that the rich (which is yet another relative term) and the “privileged” ALL obtained their wealth through unfair and unscrupulous tactics, and as such do not suffer is error in and of itself.  How can we full-on demonize people who live in a world most of us know next-to-nothing about?  The single mother in the projects on welfare or the working-class family in the depressed former industrial town know nothing of the stressors of the billionaire, and so often tend to project their view of wealth and “justice” onto them.

Even with the kid who seems to grow up with a “silver spoon in their mouth” who never seems to have the worries of us “common folk”, the point can be argued from the esoteric concepts of the direction of Karma and the drive for the Being to spiritually evolve through various “challenges” being present through the birth/death/reincarnation cycles at birth.

There is no punishment.  There are only pressures that are there to serve as potential catalysts and opportunities for spiritual growth and development.

I don’t deny that privilege exists- but I think “unearned” privilege does not. It is by definition incompatible with not only the esoteric understanding that the Laws of the Universe are inherently for the positive evolution of ALL because the Laws are the Active Force of the ALL which IS ALL, but the observable Laws of Nature.

This myth of unearned privilege is ultimately something that is used to remove any and all responsibility from the “underprivileged” or “victims” for their situation, and completely shift the blame 100% upon external factors.

It’s about envy.  It’s about resentment.  It’s about power.

Those who lament the mythical unearned privilege, have fallen victim to slave morality of Nietzsche- the individual who sees their identity as a direct comparison to someone else.  This is not the view one wants to take when working towards spiritual growth and evolution, which requires the master morality- the individual who compares himself to himself; the man who strives to be better than he was the day before.

There are no victims, only volunteers.

But perhaps most importantly, when we are focused on pointing out the “unearned privileges” of others, we are not focused on expressing gratitude for the blessings of our own lives.  The fact that people are devoting their careers to discussing this myth is yet another example of how we as a society are ungrateful for the blessings we have.

So let us be grateful for our blessings, regardless of whatever our current lot in life.  Let us be sure that we are grateful for what we do have and do the work to maintain and build from it, because Nature doesn’t believe in entitlement either…

Namaste and WRA-ALDA’S Blessings.

*IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU READ, SUPPORT THE AUTHOR BY PICKING UP YOUR LIMITED EDITION LIGHTNING WARRIOR "CONQUER OR DIE" T-SHIRT HERE*

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THE INCOMPATIBILITY OF KARMA & “PRIVILEGE”

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

  • Galatians 6:7

“The Law of Karma is also called the Law of Cause and Effect, Action and Reaction and ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’.”

  • Sham Hinduja

Agriculture concept, wheat in hands and green field

INCOMPATIBLE BELIEFS

A lot of people get offended by the views and opinions I express here, as well as those I express across various social media platforms.  This has led to numerous online debates and conflicts with not only your typical ANTIFA and SJW-type folks, but with folks within my own Esoteric/Gnostic Christian Order.  The increasing controversy surrounding the various positions I espouse to has ultimately culminated in my being discharged from the position of service I held in the spiritual community I was a part of.  This dismissal was at the behest of the master teacher, who requested I no longer serve in the sanctuary, although still welcomed me to attend services and classes as a congregant.

In hindsight, I could see this split coming from a mile away, even though it still hit me pretty hard when he requested I step down.  And while my sermons were typically pretty tame and more esoteric/universalist in nature (although I did incorporate Nietzsche into a sermon once), it was what I was saying outside Sunday services that was often running counter to what the rest of the group went with.  This was creating conflict with multiple members of the group who could not reconcile how someone who said the things I said could also be a priest in the Order.

There are certain expectations many people have for spiritual leaders in New Age-type circles.  Unfortunately, one of these is the unspoken expectation that we should be in full agreement with the Liberal/Marxist ideals that pervade our modern culture (especially here on the American west coast).  And if you aren’t necessarily in full agreement, you should certainly not speak aggressively in counter to them- especially when it has anything to do with race or any of the other more controversial topics I tend to speak on.

But nevertheless, the more vocal I became with my views, the more people within the group became upset when they found out that I was an ordained priest within that Order.  I was no longer in full agreement with what the master teacher saw as the mission of the group he was leading.  I had unintentionally become a subversive element within the group, the bulk of which consists of Liberal baby-boomer, ex-hippie types.  And through my conversations with these folks, many tend to carry the sorts of Liberal/PC ideals and beliefs you would ascribe to that particular group.  This does not exactly describe me, so it made sense that I should step away from a leadership role, which for the time being, has equated to me stepping away from any kind of role.  And while there is no “de-frocking” within the Order- i.e. I am not ex-communicated and will remain an ordained priest until my death (and beyond), I am just now sans congregation.

The really interesting thing about what has become the dominant socio-political ideology represented in the members of my ordaining Order, is that the founder of the Order, Father Paul Blighton, was known for his favoritism towards J. Edgar Hoover and owning a copy of “None Dare Call It Treason”- a book written by famous American Protestant anti-Communist author and former Council for National Policy member, John A. Stormer.  In this book, Stormer warns America about the Communist infiltration of American society, politics and culture- something that turned out to be true in a number of ways.  Jewish-American intellectual and critic, Richard Hofstadter called the book a “masterful piece of folkish propaganda.”

A man from their grandparents’ generation, Father Paul’s socio-political leanings seemed to contrast the “peace, love and social justice” baby-boomers that studied and were ordained under him.  Father Paul was bringing the essence of what had begun to manifest during the various New Thought and Occult Revival movements of the pre-World War II era that were based off a sort of infusion of Hermeticism and Eastern spirituality, to a wider, younger audience.

However, what seemed to happen in many respects is what happened to the New Age movement as a whole, which was that it got diluted with the Neo-Marxist social programming that the baby-boomer generation were the real beta-test subjects for.  Father Paul’s message appeared to become mixed with the message of Cloward and Piven and “A Course In Miracles”, creating what at times appears to be a sort of dissonance of thought and an incompatibility of ideology.  This seems to have become magnified in this new more polarized political paradigm we seem to have entered.

Of course, from the perspective of Self none of this really matters, but when it comes to doing functional work in the world of duality and manifestation that we live in, it quite often does.

CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE?

The biggest areas I have found myself in disagreement with what seems to be the majority of the members of my ordaining Order has been my position on socio-political things like equality, rights, privilege, racism, multiculturalism, and the overall moral stance of the “Regressive Left”- and the belief that holding to these ideals is somehow synonymous with spiritual virtue.  My position continues to be that these ideals are little more than abstractions- fabrications that do not exist in any true form.  Not only do I contend that these ideals do not exist outside of utopian fantasy, but I argue that the constant attempt to force them to exist runs counter to the Laws of Nature and Creation whose function it is to keep all things in balance and harmony.

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Social justice and the notion of “privilege” (i.e. white male privilege) have their roots in Neo-Marxist Critical Theory.  The basis of this thought is that there is a class of “oppressors” and a class of the “oppressed” (i.e. victims).  The oppressors are traditionally whites, and in particular white men and the “white male patriarchy”.  It is this group that Critical Theory describes the need to re-educate so that they do not oppress, while the “oppressed” are completely blameless and faultless.

The idea of “privilege” in Neo-Marxist theory is incompatible with the notion of karma.  Wellesley professor Peggy McIntosh- the lady who essentially defined the modern concept of “white privilege”; describes this as an “invisible package of unearned assets”.  If we understand karma, we understand that NOTHING we have in this life- good or bad- is “unearned”.  The only wrong done when it comes to “privilege” is when we don’t have gratitude for our situation.

The founder of the Order, Father Paul Blighton, when asked the question, “Why do some people seem superior to others?”; had the following response:

“We begin each incarnation where we left off in the last, and a little higher.  If the last one ended with high aspirations, with no hatred, no injustices, or cruelties, then early in this incarnation this higher development has to manifest, regardless of the station in life, the environment or outer education.  In this sense we are not all born equal, because our present life is due to a great extent to what we made it in our last incarnation.  There are those who start early in this life to overcome the bad effects of the last incarnation, and finally end this one in a much higher state than they came into it… Past experiences have become amalgamated into the reality of what we are.”

But despite this very clear position that we essentially have and get what we deserve in life, a great many members of the Order and the New Age community continue to pay lip service and attempt to give legitimacy to the concept of “white privilege” and its relation to the “oppression” of minorities.

The definition of white privilege is a direct contradiction to the law of karma and the teaching that we reap what we sow.  This notion that we do not earn what we have, good or bad, is contradictory to spiritual teaching and the notion that our lives are the result of our living prayer.  Unless we believe in an unjust universe where karmic law does not exist, how can any “privilege” carried by an individual or group of individuals be unearned or unfair?

VICTIM THEOLOGY

The idea behind karma is that there is Justice in the highest, most true sense woven into the fabric of creation itself; and that it is self-regulating like the processes of the human body, as we are a microcosm of the larger processes of Nature and Creation.

Many esoteric traditions, including my own, also acknowledge the existence of freedom of choice and free will when it comes to the situations of our lives.  This not only has to do with our chosen actions or thoughts and what those will bring to us, but the idea that on the Other Side before incarnation, we have a certain amount of choice as to the experiences and tests we will be put through that are not necessarily part of any karmic debt.

karma-cleanse

Now, it is worth noting that it is known in many esoteric circles that karmic debt can be absolved in this lifetime by manners other than suffering and tribulation.  And there are even methods of lessening the karmic impact of intentions through use of proxies and patsies, most of the general public remains ignorant of these things.

And since we do reap the fruits of the thoughts and deeds we sow in this life and the previous one(s), there are no real victims in this world, only volunteers.  In the cause and effect scenarios of our day-to-day life, this rings true for every physically and mentally capable adult.  Our lives are the summation of our choices and deeds.  When we squander opportunities or make poor, lazy, or ignorant choices and act on these, we suffer and we do not thrive.  You choose whether you will work that easy, low-paying job or figure out how to be an entrepreneur.  You choose to spend your money on a new flat screen TV or a new I-phone rather than saving it, or investing it something that will benefit you and/or your family in a more long-term and meaningful way.  You choose whether you act like an  self-respecting adult or a self-absorbed child.

From a spiritual perspective, and from the teachings of my own spiritual lineage, it is argued that we ultimately choose what we will experience in this life from the perspective of Soul/Self.  Now we are not just talking about karmic baggage from past lives, but the actual gaming out of a life mission of sorts in the higher realms before incarnation.  We choose much of what we experience from the perspective of an undying Soul and Self that can never truly be harmed or destroyed.  Remember, from the perspective of the eternal Self/Soul, suffering, oppression and death don’t really matter as they have no effect on the Self, which is eternal and unchanging.

Now there are some that are somewhat uncomfortable with this hardline karmic perspective.  These are people who are easily caught up in the emotions of suffering and ask me questions such as:

Would you be comfortable telling a child who lost a parent or a person whose family member was killed through some act of brutality, or a child tormented daily by bullies that it’s their own fault that they are suffering, because they asked for it and wanted to have it happen?”

To which I reply:

No, that would serve no useful purpose except to further traumatize the child. A child cannot emotionally process and understand things in a way an adult can (although sadly a great deal of modern adults are emotionally children). That’s why we typically delay talking to children about complex issues. You teach the child how to cultivate strength and cope with these things in a healthy and productive manner so they don’t fall into a cycle of victimhood for the rest of their lives, perpetuating their own trauma.”

But I will not treat adults like children- regardless of their emotional capacities.  Adults need to understand the consequences pf their actions (or inactions) and learn to accept them, not be shielded from them.  It is this acceptance of hardness of reality and the weight our decisions truly hold, that breeds strength to rise above our shortcomings and understand just how much power we really have.

And while it is appealing to that part of ourselves that identifies with “the victim”, this Critical Theory/Social Justice belief system is just that- a belief system.  It is the low-hanging fruit that those who might seek to embody true compassion and justice can grab onto and keep company with those who care little about spiritual development and seek to do little more than lament about their own victimhood and perceived powerlessness.  This is done while seeking to take away the free will of those they see as their “oppressors”- as all social justice-inspired policies inevitably seek to do.  On the other end, those who have been indoctrinated to believe that they are part of this “oppressor class”, have the sort of “original sin” complex that you described.

Ultimately, Neo-Marxism and all of its fruits lack any sort of spiritual foundation or practice, but rather seek to change behavior through a form of human “dog-training”, while using subtle nuances, doublespeak, and schoolyard-style peer-pressure and bullying.  This has resulted in a sort of dogmatic neurosis among “believers”.

As far as my feelings surrounding oppression, I am not denying that certain forces and institutions exist, which I have discussed in depth in the past.  However, the effect they have on us is less out of our hands then we think.  And let’s be clear that I have never said anywhere that the people that run things are necessarily doing so because of “good karma” in a moral sense. They run things because they are focused and tireless in their intent and “mission”; they understand how to utilize the Law of Manifestation in a way others do not; there is not an element of their psyche that disagrees with their moral convictions or their actions- and inner unity is the key to utilizing the Law of Manifestation; and they know the value of using other people to do the real dirty work, thus skirting a good deal of moral karma and passing it onto the patsies.

We need to understand that when we’re talking about “karma”, what we’re ultimately talking about is the Law of Cause and Effect, which, like the other Laws and Principles, works on a level beyond our own limited self-interested senses of morality.

CHARITY

It was taught in my Order that one should not necessarily move out of sense of guilt, obligation, or pity and give money to a homeless man, as we are not privy to his karma or mission of his soul.  Rather we are encouraged to listen to the voice of Self for guidance as to how to proceed as it knows truth.

When charity is mechanized through bureaucratic processes and corrupted through special interests in both the government and many of the large philanthropic organizations, it becomes a mockery of itself.  In the case of government in particular, “charity” is typically collected in the form of taxes, which are ultimately enforced by threat of violence.  This process entirely removes the free will and communication with Self that was present in the scenario of the homeless man.

It is important to understand, as anyone who has gone from “rags to riches” will undoubtedly attest, poverty is first and foremost a state of mind.  Anyone who grew up around poor people or were poor themselves can attest to the way that poor people tend to gravitate towards material status symbols to give themselves comfort in an illusion of wealth.  Often, they will prioritize obtaining these things rather than seriously working to understand how money works and how to get themselves out of the cycle of poverty.  Now I will admit this may be considerably more difficult in places like Africa, and parts of Asia and Latin America, but in the western world, there are no excuses except your own- regardless of your race, ethnicity or gender.

For many, these things I say may come off as cold and insensitive, as I am basically stating that people have their lot in life through Divine Justice.  To some, this is reminiscent to many of the Hindu caste system where the poor were understood to be poor because of karmic debt, and therefore, they must not be helped or aided in any way.  Karma is understood to be the “effect” in the Principle of Cause and Effect.

And while I do see the poor as being poor due to the choices mad in this and previous lifetimes; I do NOT believe that this means we should under no circumstances work to help them alleviate their suffering.  We are here to help one another up Jacob’s Ladder towards human godliness.  However, I am of the school of thought that teaching a man to fish is FAR more beneficial to him and the world than simply giving him a fish.

INDO-ARYAN HUMANITARIANISM

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In Zoroastrianism, the ancient Aryan religion of Persia founded by a sage from the Caucasus Mountains named Zarathustra; there exists a philosophy of “Vairya”, which translates to “Desirable Dominion”.  This comes from taking the principle of Asha, which is thinking and understanding that is in alignment with Cosmic Order and applying it to a justly governed society.  This principle was promoted by figures like the legendary Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great.

Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, was renowned for his extraordinary humanitarianism.  Unlike most other imperial conquerors, Cyrus never plundered or had mass-executions, and would actually improve the living conditions of the subjugated populations.  His reputation proceeded him to such an extent that in some cases when Cyrus would come through, the soldiers of targeted area would lay down their arms as they knew Cyrus was going to improve their living conditions and treat them better than the despot that currently ruled.

While Cyrus the Great is often referred to as the founder of human rights, this idea becomes conflated when comparing it to our modern definition of the term.  Cyrus’ policy was very much rooted in the Zoroastrian ethos and worldview, which was essentially a demand for improvement and pressure for the human being to strive for greatness and even godliness.  This idea contrasts the modern notion that you are entitled certain things regardless of the effort one puts into self-improvement and service- i.e. you “get” without having to “give”.  When Cyrus worked to better the lives of the peoples he conquered, it was with the understanding that he was giving these people the tools to help embody the principle of “Spenta Mainyu” in themselves.

Spenta Mainyu” in Zoroastrianism is said to be the main essence of their primary deity, Ahura Mazda (whose name translates to ‘Titan of Wisdom’) and is represented by the eternal flame.  This flame is understood to be Promethean in nature and is the fire of innovation and the creative principle.  Zoroastrian practitioners seek to embody this Spenta Mainyu through the conscientious free choice to champion the progressive advancement of cosmically-aligned wisdom and knowledge on the Earth.  This philosophy is ultimately about taking personal responsibility for the ascension of humanity and giving humans the tools they need to do that.

The idea here is that we look to “raise up” others by giving them the tools they need to raise up themselves, as there is an obligation to cultivate this consciousness of Spenta Mainyu and create the utopia of the Desirable Dominion where we have a society of sages dedicated to living according to Natural Law Principles.  Again, this idea is completely removed from the modern conversation around rights and welfare, where people are “owed” without the obligation to contribute anything more than finance through taxation.

There was also the understanding that the justly governed empire was akin to a walled garden, and required “weeding”, i.e. the removable of incompatible or subversive elements that were incongruent to the values espoused by Spenta Mainyu and Its Six Rays which were Cosmic Order, Best Thinking, Desirable Dominion, Wholeness, Ever-Deepening Serenity, and Vitality.  In other words, there was only a “right” to live within the Desirable Dominion if you lived in accordance with its Principles- you do not have “rights” to the fruits of the Dominion simply because you exist.  While it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom, we do not just get it bestowed upon us without some amount of effort and striving on our part.

CONCLUSION

This desire for equity of chance and equality of outcome stems from the desire to be rid of the Natural Law Principle of Cause and Effect that seems to cause man so much discomfort.  This Principle works to assure stability, order and Ultimate Justice in the Kosmos.  It is also a driving force behind life, death, and the forces of Nature that man has so long attempted to shield himself from to an ever-greater degree.

While it can’t be denied that the ability to ensure steady supply of food, shelter and overall social stability has allowed man to not only survive, but thrive; it is also hard to deny honestly that this natural inclination has led to a sort of neurosis in “civilized” humanity to shield itself from certain processes of nature that it perceives threatens not only the existence of their physical bodies, but the things that it is attached to.

These attachments are those possessions, institutions and beliefs that the various segments of the human population believe is a part of itself.  The natural processes that threaten these attachments and institutions include death, disease, famine, weather and natural disasters, as well as the more basic primal and tribal nature of man’s own being.

However, humanity, particularly those of us in the west it seems, wish to ultimately shield ourselves from the consequences of our own choices and actions.  This desire to remain unaccountable can be found at the upper echelons of government and corporate institutions, all the way down the individual who is on homeless or state assistance, and everywhere in between to varying degrees.

It is the perspective of these “lower castes” that the ideologies of both Marxism AND Judeo-Christianity seeks to appeal to.  This victim theology and slave morality has been used for centuries to create a world of people who are little more than physically mature children- emotional, entitled, self-centered and disconnected from the Laws of Nature.

We must counter this impulse towards our lower nature by moving in the opposite direction towards institution of a natural aristocracy.  Here we seek to become the greatest version of ourselves we can be, while seeking to raise up our brothers and sisters in our spheres of association and influence.  I believe EVERYONE is capable of this in some form or fashion.

In the end, having a world where we are all striving to be as warriors, sages and priest kings (or queens) is going to be a far more positive and productive one than a world where our only aspirations are to be taken care of like children and to make sure we ‘get what we deserve’- because we already do.

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Namaste and God Bless.

“I recognize the manifestation of undeviating Justice in all the circumstances of my life”

– from the Qabalistic Tarot affirmation prayer, ‘This is Truth about the Self’

CHRISTMAS AND THE CULTURE OF “WHITENESS” (Part 1)

“The dark shall soon flee from the dells of the earth

So she a wonderful word to us speaks

The day shall again, new made rise from a rosy sky

Saint Lucy, Saint Lucy”

  • The Lucia Song: verse 3 (English Translation)

 

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PHOTO COURTESY OF EURWEB.COM

DREAMING OF A WHITENESS CHRISTMAS

Something that has gained increasing traction in not only academia, but also in popular culture, is the idea that people of European descent, i.e. “White people”, have no “real” culture of their own.  This idea has largely come out of “Whiteness Studies”, which is an offshoot of Neo-Marxist Critical Theory and has entrenched itself into the worldview of an increasing number of people across the Western world.  If you ask any adherent to this philosophy what “White culture” is, they might respond with words like “patriarchy”, “capitalism”, “oppression”, “privilege”, “cultural appropriation”, “racism”, “exploitation”, etc.  They might even say that White people don’t really have a culture of their own outside of Big Macs and Hollywood movies.

There is perhaps no better, more consolidated example to support this view than the modern Christmas or “Holiday” Season.  Christmas and the Holiday Season, have become synonymous with capitalism, commercialism, consumerism, materialism, and of course, racism.  The myth of the fat old white man going around the world spreading “cheer” by distributing all the latest consumer products the “white” global consumerist market has to offer- this is what Christmas or “The Holidays” are all about in modern consumer society.

Plus, add to that the annual resurgence of all the various debates around whether we say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or what skin color Santa and Jesus should have.  One could even argue that the “origins” of Christmas, i.e. the Jesus Nativity story, is a sort of white cultural appropriation as it is a story involving Middle Eastern people in Middle Eastern lands, that is claimed by many white folk as their own.

In the following series, what I am going to lay out here is the case that what has become known as the oppressive “non-culture” of Whiteness, particularly as exemplified by the modern Holiday mythos, is in fact, something that was slowly imposed on “White people”, who in fact DO have a rich cultural tradition that still lives on DESPITE multiple attempts to twist, subvert and eradicate it over the centuries.  I also plan to show how this rich culture, which has been shared with the world in a variety of forms, is also personified by the stories and traditions surrounding what has become known as “Christmas”, and this culture lives on in us in a deep archetypal and spiritual way, and is available to us here and now.

JOLLY OLD SAINT ODIN

I have written in the past about the Solar myth that forms the spiritual significance of this time of year and the deeper mysteries and parallels of Christianity and the earlier Proto-Indo-European religions.  However, what of the Santa myth that rivals Jesus in cultural significance during this time of year?  What of this seeming archetype of modern “White” patriarchal consumerist globalization?

When it comes to the origins of the figure known as “Santa Claus”, a lot of people immediately gravitate toward the story of St. Nicholas of Myra.  A somewhat legendary figure, St. Nicholas was reputed to have a “legendary habit” of secret gift-giving.  Nicholas was a said to be a Greek Christian in the Byzantine Empire and during lived in the 4th Century A.D.- three to four centuries before the Muslim conquest of the region.  However, some have argued that St. Nicholas was in fact born of wealthy ethnic Black Anatolian “Muurs.

But the origins of what became Santa Claus are in truth much older than that, and originated in a much colder place.  In many parts of pre-Christian Northern and Central Europe, the Winter Solstice was known as the time when Odin or Wotan- the white-bearded ruler of Asgard, led his hunting party across the sky.  Known as “The Wild Hunt”, Odin rode his eight-legged (eight reindeer) steed named Sleipnir, which would leap great distances across the heavens.  During this time, children would leave their boots by the chimney filled with carrots and hay to feed Sleipnir.  In return for their charity, “Odin” would leave the children gifts by their boots.
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This night of Odin’s “Wild Hunt” has a counterpart in what is known as Lussinatta, or “The Lussi Night” in Sweden.  This is now celebrated as St. Lucy’s Day and occurs on the 13th of December every year.  However, before the Gregorian Calendar shift, it would have fallen on December 21st– the night of the Winter Solstice.  Some legends suggest that a supernatural female entity was said to ride through the air with her fearsome followers called “Lussiferda” and that it was particularly dangerous to be out on this night.  Misbehaved children had to take special care as Lussi could come down the chimney and take them away, and if certain tasks needed to prepare for Yule were not completed, Lussi would punish the household.

The contrast between Odin who left gifts and Lussi who brought punishment has echoes of the later pair of St. Nicholas/Santa Claus and the Krampus.  Interestingly, some scholars link Krampus, as a member of the fearsome entourage of the ancient Germanic goddess Frau Perchta, who some connect with the ancient Norse goddess, Freya– one of the primary Vanir or old nature gods who some say ruled before the Aesir.

The inclusion of both the fearsome and the festive shows a deep understanding of the dualism inherent in nature that these ancient European peoples possessed- especially during this most perilous time of year.  On the one hand, we have the often harsh and brutal forces of nature during the cold winter months.  And on the other, we have the festive joy that comes from the promise of the return of the Sun.

But if we go even deeper and look at etymology and linguistics, we add another layer of sophistication.  Swedish stems from the Indo-European family of languages, if we sound out the name of Lussi and in particular, her Lussiferda, the name “Lucifer” might perhaps come to mind.  Lucifer, of course, stems from “lux ferre”, which in another Indo-European language, and that is Latin, literally means “light bringing”.  We perhaps see that these ancient Northern Europeans were pointing at how it was the oft-times terrifying darkness that carried the Light that brought life to the world.  This is true not only within Nature, but within the trials and tribulations of our own lives and our own being- the night is darkest before the dawn.  It is the darkness that brings the Light.

We see this deep understanding mirrored in in the Scandinavian Festival of St. Lucy where traditionally a procession is led by a beautiful young lady adorned with a crown or wreath of candles upon her head (although now this is being changed to be morepolitically correct”), bringing the promise of life-giving Light into the darkest night.

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PHOTO CREDIT CATHOLICCOMPANY.COM

The cold and brutal Northern European winter was a time that had the potential to bring starvation and death (and often did).  But with after the passing of the Solstice, the people knew that the days were slowly beginning to grow longer, and the life-giving Sun was growing stronger.

The Norse-Germanic festival of Yule was celebrated from right around the time of the Winter Solstice all the way through the second week in January.  This festival of feasting, drinking and sacrifice was a hallowed tradition among pre-Christian Northern European peoples to whom winter had a special significance that was not held among most others.  Yule was the tradition of a people who were close to the land and intimately tied into the cycles and processes of Nature.

The industrious elves/dwarves, the holly, the mistletoe, and the evergreens that have all become symbols of “Christmas” are all hallmarks of the culture and lore of Northern Europe.  The white of the pure, cleansing snow; the green of the evergreen tree- symbol of the magic of regenerative life; the red of the blood of the sacrifice and the folk; and the gold of the eternal undying Sun; these are the colors that are synonymous with “The Holidays” and they are inseparable from the unique folk consciousness and soul of the Northern European peoples.

These ancient “white” people were a very distinct culture with rich customs and traditions.  However, they would eventually find their culture usurped and altered at the point of a sword by invaders from the south and the east, as well as traitors within their own tribe.  Of course, what I am referring to is the spread of Christianity in Europe.

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Christianity moved in slowly at first, with the rather tolerant Northern European pagans accepting and in some cases even adopting the worship of this new “god”, seeing similarities between their deities of similar attributes.  This was commonplace during the old phase of the Roman Empire, where Celtic gods and Roman gods were often mixed and matched.  However, Rome began to use its wealth and influence to spread its influence, bribing local rulers and nobility, who in turn would use their military resources to impose the new religion on their people as well as neighboring tribes.

Another reason this new empire was so successful was that it also became adept at using more subtle tactics, such as co-opting the patron deities of various European peoples and turning them into Christian “saints”.  These figures would be attributed to various good deeds or miracles that made them similar to the deity the church wished to replace.  They would then proclaim the pagan festivals and holy days that used to belong to the old deity as now being a celebration and veneration of that saint.  This is more than likely what happened with figures like Saint Nicholas and Saint Lucy in Northern Europe.

By the end of the 14th century, the entirety of Europe had been converted to Christianity, and even after the split between the Eastern and Western church in 1054 AD, Rome would still control Europe and its people from the British Isles, to Scandinavia, all the way into Hungary and parts of Romania.  Through the church, Rome controlled the people not only through political means, but through the indoctrination of the people into a dogmatic belief system, it by proxy controlled their minds.

The conflict of the incoming Semitic Saturnian religion with that of the Indo-European Solar religion, has in many respects seemed to create a sort of neurosis in the European collective consciousness.  This is could be in part because this was not really an organic spirituality of the people based on their unique relationship to Nature and Spirit, but rather something that was foisted upon them, largely against their will.  This could also be because the totality of what was happening and is continuing to happen with these archetypal forces has not been fully understood and integrated.

stonehengewinterPHOTO COURTESY CRYSTALINKS.COM

“THE MASK YOU LIVE IN”- A Feminist’s Guide to Being a Man

“Everyone deserves to feel whole. And each of us can do our part in expanding what it means to be a man for ourselves and the boys in our lives.”

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Photo copyright Jennifer Newsom and The Representation Project

I recently sat down and watched the documentary “The Mask You Live In”- a film that was written and directed by filmmaker and actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom (who also happens to be the wife of the Lieutenant Governor of California). Newsom is also the creator of the film “Miss Representation”, which examines how the media have supposedly contributed to the under-representation of women in positions of power. Her latest film “The Mask You Live In”, is billed as being about “the struggle men and boys have while negotiating American society’s narrow definition of masculinity”.

I had heard about the film for a little while and knew it had mixed reviews, with the guys over at The ManKind Project giving it a “thumbs up”, while the guys over at The Pressure Project gave it a “thumbs down”. As these are both groups that I have a great deal of respect for, I decided to check out the movie for myself.

THE GOOD:

“The way boys are brought up makes them hide all of their natural, vulnerable, and empathic feelings behind a mask of masculinity.”

The film opens with former NFL player and football coach, Joe Ehrmann reflecting on a memory of him being five years old and his father bringing him into the basement to teach him how to fight, telling him he could not cry and he had to “be a man”. He then tells how he spent the rest of his life attempting to prove to his father that he was just that.

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NFL Logo Copyright the National Football League

One of the primary focuses of the film has to do with how boys are taught from very early on that they need to disconnect from our emotions and that any emotion other than anger is not “manly”. We are given the stories and narratives of a handful of young men who speak about how they were taught as children what they needed to do to “fit in” with various male peer groups throughout their years in elementary school, and then high school. One of the characters, a former athlete-turned-thespian named Ian, describes this process:

School was a training ground for me to learn how to perform masculinity; to perform to be one of the guys.”

The idea of feeling the need to “perform”; to put on some kind of act, in order to be accepted by one male peer group or another is something that strongly resonated with my schooling experience. Whether it was joining a sports team when I was not at all athletic or into sports; bullying certain kids who were “lower” on the school social hierarchy; smoking weed and hanging out with guys I didn’t really trust; or distancing myself from friends who were not part of the “cool crowd”- I did all kinds of things and compromised my integrity in many ways for the sole purpose of being “accepted” by one group of guys or another.

Likewise, as was reflected in the film narrative, I learned that men never cry or show emotion or empathy. At first it was described as something that girls and “sissies” did, and later, it was something that was “gay”- all of which were things that as a boy, you did not want to be labelled as.

This is also echoed in the film as it speaks on bullying of children who are “different”. This too resonated with me, as being someone who was more on the “creative” and “sensitive” side (as well as the chubby side due to being allowed to eat poorly and be lazy), I often found myself the target of moderate bullying. However, my remedy for this was often to try to “get in” with the bullies by being one myself.

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Photo courtesy of The Representation Project

The film speaks to how there is a dominance hierarchy in these male social circles, which as stated, can lead to bullying, which in turn can cause the one being targeted to feel helpless, and with the stigma towards males expressing emotion and reaching out, causes the boy to internalize everything, leading to depression and in extreme cases, suicide. In American boys, suicide is the third leading cause of death, with boys between 10-14 having three times the suicide rate as girls, which jumps to five times the rate in boys ages 15-19, and then skyrockets to 7 times the suicide rate in young men between 20-24.

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Several of the boys and young men interviewed speak of a life of feeling alone and isolated. Some of these young men reached to drinking and drugs as a gateway to bonding and letting down barriers they felt they were forced to keep up at all other times for their own emotional (and sometimes physical) protection. Some even reached out into gang culture as a way to somehow find that “bond” with other men that they so desperately craved.

This desperate craving for male companionship was often due to the physical and/or emotional abandonment by their fathers (something referred to as the “father wound). This is another “wound” I resonate with, as my father was not overly involved with me for most of my life. My story is not as cut-and-dry as a “deadbeat dad” story, but the effects of not having a present and involved father-figure during my adolescent years certainly effected me negatively nonetheless.

There is indeed a crisis among our boys, and the film points to the portrayal of men and masculinity in culture and the media and the expectations set up around them as the primary culprit. A group of San Quentin prisoners who form a men’s support group of “lifers” are featured in the film, and in one scene the group makes a list of some of characteristics that they grew up believing made a man a man. These traits included showing no emotion, using violence to solve problems, being able to dominate others, being a womanizer, and “never backing down”.

The film then again directs us to Joe Ehrmann who refers to the “lies of masculinity”, which is the notion that masculinity is defined by the following three things:

  1. Athletic and Physical Prowess and Physique
  2. Economic Success and Money
  3. Sexual Conquest

This was another point that I highly resonated with. I remember points during my twenties especially, when I was obsessed with developing my physique, and even more so with sexual conquest, as that more than anything else, defined what was “a man” to me (which was/is total bullshit). Meanwhile, the specter of economic success consistently eluded me, creating feelings of deep insecurity and a sense of personal failure.

The film goes on to talk about the specific “masculine (shadow) archetypes” portrayed in the modern media that glorify dominance and aggression: the strong silent antihero type (who uses violence to get what he wants); the superhero; the thug (typically a “person of color”); and the man-child/frat-boy type (who obsesses over sexual conquest). We are then rightly told about how media influences culture, as media images and themes have been proven to affect people’s behavior.

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We are also told how not only film and television, but video games and pornography are shaping the modern male mind. Again, both of these things are true. A statistic given is that 31% of males feel “addicted” to video games. Likewise, the increasing brutality and violence of video games and perpetual exposure to them has been shown to create a desensitization effect. There is a reason why first-person shooters originated as, and continue to be used as training exercises for soldiers.

Similarly, internet pornography is increasingly pandemic among young men, with the seemingly unending supply of novelty and stimulation. Internet pornography has destroyed many young men’s capacity for intimacy, and both porn and video games has helped foster a state of ever-increasing isolation among many. Like video games, use of internet pornography can be extremely habit-forming and virulently addictive in a similar way that gambling or food can be (although the film does not mention this), and has become an epidemic among a generation of increasingly lonely and isolated men.

One of the highlights of the film is the emphasis on the need for male support groups and mentorship. The film shows several examples of young men being involved in various mentoring programs and male support groups, while stressing the need to create a space where bonds can be formed, support can be given, and trust can be established. Forming this sort of container allows men to be authentic and vulnerable and work through challenging emotions in a healthy and empowering way, and as a result, fosters strength, which serves their “tribe”. The “circle of men” is a key component for the creation and maintenance of true tribe and brotherhood, and is something that many, many men, young and old, do not have.

One of the interviewees states, “Our boys are yearning for help; yearning for guidance and mentorship and leadership.

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Photo courtesy of The Representation Project

Without true mentors and brothers, many young men are going out and defining these concepts of masculinity and tribe/brotherhood for themselves- and often with disastrous consequences. There is a deep need for brotherhood and a place for authentic interaction among men that is missing in modern society, and to its credit, “Mask” recognizes this.

The ability to become emotionally literate is something that has been taken from modern men and at a great price. The authentic bonding of the family and the tribe has slowly been eroded by modernity. The great archetypes and symbols that men once worked with and used to define and describe the internal life from a place of power, have all but disappeared from modern consciousness. The great initiations where boys learned to become men have been reduced to mere shells of what they once were, if they even exist at all.

Thankfully, there are groups out there that are working to once again provide a place for men to move into a place of authenticity and openness within a tribe of trusted brothers, and a manner for men to once again discover the true depth of masculinity and the male experience. The ManKind Project is one such group that is near and dear to me, but there are many others, and I encourage any man reading to look into them if they have not already.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

“Masculinity is not organic, it’s reactive. It’s not something that just develops. It’s a rejection of everything that is feminine.”

Dr. Caroline Heldman; Associate Professor of Political Science at Occidental College

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – APRIL 23: Journalist Maria Shriver and director Jennifer Siebel Newsom attend as Brooks Brothers hosts ìThe Mask You Live Inî premiere after party at Brooks Brothers Rodeo Drive on April 23, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Brooks Brothers) *** Local Caption *** Maria Shriver;Jennifer Siebel Newsom

One of the first “red flags” for me occurred during the opening credits of the documentary when I saw the list of who it was that created this film about the world of young men and “masculinity” in America:

Writer, Director, and Producer: Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Writer, Producer, and Film Editor: Jessica Congdon

Producer: Jessica Anthony

Associate Producer: Dani Fishman

Executive Producers: Maria Shriver, Abigail Disney, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Sarah E. Johnson, Regina Kulik Scully, Wendy Schmidt

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? We have a documentary about men and masculinity produced entirely by women. Putting things in perspective here, can we honestly say that in this day and age a film about young women and “femininity” is a venture that could be taken up by an all-male production team and have any sort of real credibility? Furthermore, is it a subject that a group of men should attempt to tackle? Is a man or a group of men really capable of exploring the true depth of the experience of being a woman? Probably not. That being said, how could the reverse situation, which is this film, hope to escape the same fate? It can’t and it doesn’t. Even if these women have sons of their own, they will never experience being their sons (or any of the other men in their lives), and that makes a BIG difference with a project like this.

The perspective of the filmmakers is unavoidable, and for that effect the film itself becomes in large part a critique of men and masculinity in the context of how they relate to women and the feminine- not a real in-depth look at masculinity in and of itself. While there are points where some real light shines through, and the filmmakers may have had the best of intentions, unfortunately this “light” is somewhat dimmed by the persistent and obvious focus of the filmmakers in the belief of the perpetual victim status of women in America.

The film’s focus on women being faultless victims of American men leaves one with the impression that much of the “concern” for men this film professes to have, is in large part based in the filmmakers’ own group self-interest as women, and not out of a genuine concern for the suffering of men in and of itself. The filmmakers seek to see men’s behavior change for the primary purpose of benefiting women (particularly those of a neo-feminist persuasion), not men.

To sum it up, any “concern” the film claims to have for boys and men comes off as largely disingenuous, and in truth just seems to simply be looking for a new solution for the age-old problem of how to make men “behave properly” and “feel correctly” in order to tame and train them to not be “a threat” to whomever is looking to gain power at their expense.

One of the first “experts” interviewed in the film is Dr. Michael Kimmel, who speaks of how the idea of proving strength and masculinity to other males is something that starts in early boyhood. Kimmel laments about how boys having to prove to other boys that they’re “not girls” does not give young boys a way to feel secure in their own masculinity.

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Image courtesy of wakeupproject.com.au

Dr. Kimmel is featured fairly frequently throughout the film, and is a self-described “male feminist” who sees the ideology of feminism as a part of his moral compass, operating in place of spirituality or religion (Kimmel and his family are secular Jews). Dr. Kimmel is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University and author of books like “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men” and “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era”.

Dr. Kimmel is also a founder of the “Men’s Studies” division of Gender Studies, and is Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University. Men’s Studies focuses on the idea of “male privilege” and challenging traditional male roles. Kimmel formed this in response to the Men’s Rights Movement that was itself a reaction to Second and Third Wave Feminism and the imposition of its ideals on men.

Kimmel analyzes feelings of disenfranchisement and anger in men (particularly white men), as feelings of lost entitlement which are resulting in mass murder, mass misogynist violence and the overall setback of the advancement of culture. Kimmel feels action is needed to move men into a more “equalitarian” future.

Other “experts” like Jewish-American educator, advocate, “anti-violence” expert, and producer of the film “Tough Guise”, Dr. Jackson Katz, echo Kimmel’s sentiments on a need for a cultural redefining of masculinity. Dr. Katz is the creator of a gender violence prevention and education program entitled “Mentors in Violence Prevention”.

Katz advocates the bystander approach to gender violence and bullying prevention. Instead of focusing on women as victims and men as perpetrators of harassment, abuse or violence, the bystander approach concentrates on the role of peers in schools, groups, teams, workplaces and other social units.

However, like Dr. Kimmel, Dr. Katz’s male “advocacy” operates under the assumption that the interests and goals of second and third wave feminism are completely congruent with the best interests of western men, which is an incredibly tenuous assumption to say the least. Similarly, Dr. Katz’s overarching stance in much of his work is firmly entrenched in Critical Theory, with its obsessive focus on not “reinforce(ing) the dominant position of white masculinity in the race/gender system.”

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One of the fundamental underlying premises of the film is the theory that gender (or at least masculinity) is a purely social construct. This is alliterated by Jewish-American professor Dr. Caroline Heldman, (who was quoted in the beginning of this section) and appears to be “backed up” by science with the opinion of neuroscientist Dr. Lise Eliot, who states that “Throughout most of history there’s been this belief that men and women are fundamentally different creatures… that probably begins with the Bible… Sex is a biological term that refers to what chromosomes you have… Gender is a social construct.”

The notion of gender, and masculinity in particular, as not being “a real thing” is based on the changing specifics of the roles men play and have played from culture to culture, due to differences in economics, religion, resources, technological advancement, climate, historical factors and numerous cultural idiosyncrasies and influences. However, this notion of male social roles becomes a misrepresentation when it is applied as a universal for everything except chromosomes and genitalia. In truth, there are indeed certain “universals” that have always been present in human male populations across cultures and across time such as but not limited to:

  • Males engaging in more coalitional violence.
  • Males tending to be more aggressive.
  • Males being more prone to lethal violence.
  • Males being more prone to theft.
  • Males, on average, travelling greater distances over their lifetime

This also parallels with the characteristics of other mammal males where the need to compete for sexual selection is high. These characteristics include:

  • Males will tend to be larger than females.
  • Males will tend to die younger for physiological reasons than will females.
  • Males will tend to engage in more risky activities in the context of acquiring mates than females.
  • Males will tend to have higher mortality than females as a result of external factors, such as combat, disease, and accidents.
  • Males will tend to exhibit more general aggression than females.
  • Males will tend to engage in escalating violent aggression that leads to injury and/or death.
  • Pre-adult males will tend to engage in more competitive and aggressive play than pre-adult females.
  • Males will be less discriminating about and more eager to procreate with females than vice-versa.

Many of these are the very characteristics that the film and Critical Theory argue are purely “social constructs” that can somehow be “unlearned”. If this were indeed true, then why do these masculine/male traits appear not only repeat themselves across different cultures and different periods in history, but across different species? Not only that, if these things are so universally distributed, making them truly a property of nature rather than society, would it not be supreme arrogance to believe that somehow it was nature that “got it wrong”, and we’re going to “fix it”?

The idea of gender as a “social construct” is actually fairly recent, and has its origins in the early twentieth century with Neo-Marxist Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School. Critical Theory now saturates the Humanities Departments in most western colleges and universities, and has made its way into the majority of high school and even elementary school curricula in some form or fashion.

The concept of Critical Theory is comprised of two basic components: First, is that society is organized into oppressors and the oppressed, with the “oppressors” typically being straight “cisgender” men, with white men sitting tenuously at the very top of as rulers; while a victim hierarchy structure exists beneath them composed of women, “people of color”, LGBTQ, Jews, Muslims, etc. Second, is the belief that this system must somehow be upended through a “revolutionary” transformation of western culture via academia, media, religion, politics, which will result in the fundamental transformation of western society as a whole.

It should also be understood that this whole notion of victimhood and victim hierarchy as professed by Critical Theory is completely incongruent with self-reliance and accountability, which form the backbone of true self-empowerment, which is what movements that espouse to Critical Theory, like feminism, profess to be about. You cannot claim power over your situation without claiming some responsibility for it. Victims can’t have power, or else they wouldn’t be victims.

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We also find sprinkled throughout the film, various references to popular Critical Theory topics like “White Privilege”, “Male Privilege”, as well as the “oppression” of people of color. This is subtly hinted at through the hot-button issue of illegal immigration, with some focus on the story of a young man who laments over his absentee father being deported back to Mexico, causing him to be even less involved in his life than he already was.

As stated earlier, the film also addresses the issues with media stereotypes and the problem of pornography saturating the internet. However, instead of taking a deep look at how pornography can be addictive and truly destructive to men in multiple aspects of their lives, the film instead chooses to focus on the narrative of “rape culture”. In regards to porn, the main problem “Mask” sees is not so much the severe internal damage it causes to men in relationship to themselves, but rather how it supposedly causes them to act towards women in a predatory and even violent fashion. Again, it was the way men interacted with women that was seen as the most important issue.

It was at this point where we see Dr. Jackson Katz declare that “We (as in the United States) have a rape culture. What that means is that individual rapists are crawling out of the swamps… being produced by our culture.

The fallacies of claiming that there is a “rape culture” originating in the U.S. or any other western country, that is being led by “misogynist white males” are manifold. This narrative is a creation of Critical Theory, Third Wave Feminism, and the media, and is a subject dense enough for an article in and of itself. That being said, I will leave the topic at this point with two words: taharrush and bullshit.

After addressing “rape culture”, we move to violence culture, where we are told that “gender is the single most important factor” as to why men are the primary perpetrators of “mass shootings” (remember, we were also told that gender is a social construct). Now, moving beyond the sensationalist government and media creations that were the stories of Adam Lanza and James Holmes, there is again more to the story than the perpetuated existence of “violent, dominant hyper-masculinity” that the film would have you believe is the root of all evil.

Regardless of its faults, “The Mask You Live In”, has had enough financial backing and support to be packaged as an “educational film”, with some schools even beginning to include it as part of their curriculum (complete with accompanying text and teaching materials). This material is put out through Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s “Representation Project”- a nonprofit that was launched after the success of “Miss Representation”; whose board members include U.S. Democratic strategist and spokesman for the Golden State Warriors and for the Super Bowl 50 host committee, Nathan Ballard. Interestingly, Ballard is also a former spokesperson for Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom (Jennifer’s husband), and a former spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, Secretary of State John Kerry, and former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark.

The Representation Project “inspires individuals and communities to create a world free of limiting stereotypes and social injustices” and “(Use) film as a catalyst for cultural transformation, The Representation Project inspires individuals and communities to challenge and overcome limiting stereotypes so that everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, or circumstance, can fulfill their human potential.”

CONCLUSION:

“I think we need to get away from calling weak men ‘women’… I think we need to stop making the woman the opposite end of the spectrum of masculinity… We’re not really saying, ‘He’s not a man, he’s a woman’; we’re saying, ‘He’s not strong, he’s weak’.”

  • Justin “Master Chim” Garcia

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Photo courtesy of The Pressure Project

The Mask You Live In”, while making some valid points particularly when it comes to the need for men to be able to express emotion in a healthy manner and have support around doing so, falls victim to its belief in a simplistic caricature of masculinity. This caricature of masculinity has in and of itself been largely created by a modernized society that has progressively alienated and displaced what men are in their fullness. Each subsequent generation has moved further and further away from what this is.

The version of masculinity that is portrayed in the film is what should be referred to as “shadow masculinity”. This is an incomplete and imbalanced form of masculinity. Moreover, this is very much an immature form of masculinity- the masculinity of boys who never became men.

Contrary to the beliefs of folks like Dr. Caroline Heldman and other “critical theorists”, masculinity is the very real thing that has created society, not the other way round. The masculine impulse is the progenitor impulse; the drive to create and to build; to extend oneself outwards into the world.

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The masculine man is also the traditional protector of the tribe; the one with the tough physical exterior that complements the woman’s tough physical interior. It was always the men the formed the perimeter to protect the interior- the women and the children; from predators and invaders. It was the men that understood they would need to be fit to defend and in many cases, die, in order to protect the ability of the tribe to carry on through the women and children.

In this respect, it is hard-wired into men to seek out and foster strength in other members of “the tribe”, as it is for men to seek to gain the respect and approval of other men in the tribe. Again, these are things that are hard-wired into us, and in a natural environment, they are healthy and play a vital role in the development and maintenance of healthy masculinity. The drive to “toughen” other men up comes from this. However, without proper guidance and initiation from “tribal elders”, this toughening-up process in its immature form can turn into bullying, and becomes destructive rather than productive.

This need for strength and control/discipline also flows over into the area of emotion and the need for men to have emotional strength and control so we aren’t emotionally “leaking” all over the place, putting ourselves and others at risk during times of crisis and real threat when we need to keep our wits about us. Again, due to lack of proper guidance and initiation, we have mistakenly come to equate emotional control with emotional suppression.

The real problem here is that we are far, far away from anything close to a “natural environment”, and this artifice of modernity seems to have severely affected men to a degree that really is not being talked about in this film, or in general. There is a perverse domestication process that is happening in modern society that is breeding a form of psychosis in men (as well as women), as we become increasingly separated from the natural rhythms of life. In some cases, this psychosis is repressed and regressive, and in others, it’s violent and virulent.

To add to this problem, there is a real belief that these natural hard-wired traits in men are something that can just be culturally “reprogrammed” or “overridden”. This theory is a severe fallacy, and has led to much of the sorts of violent outbursts and general hopeless despair that the makers of the film wish to remedy. We can’t just “reprogram” men and think everything will work out. We need to get to the root of the wound, which with the nature of this modern society, can be multiple.

Here in the United States, we still begin many of our young men’s lives with the very unnatural and unnecessary process of institutionalized male genital mutilation or “circumcision”. There has been a great deal of study done on infant circumcision and infant trauma, and it has been found that the procedure can and will have a deep traumatic impact on the child that will effect a wide range of development issues including, but not limited to his ability to express emotion, empathy and intimacy. There is a saying in the anti-circumcision community that those men who have been cut will “cut” in return. It has been widely concluded that due to the stage of development of the child when the trauma occurs, infant trauma is the hardest to thoroughly move past.

We then move on to the schooling or “education” of boys. The system of government education that we subscribe to is probably one of the most un-natural and perverse systems we can put a child into. A great deal of the film goes into statistics about boys in school such as the fact that boys are more likely to be in special education, be diagnosed with ADHD, flunk or drop out, be suspended, or be expelled. The film puts a great deal of stress put on what can be done to somehow make these boys perform better in school. However, the film lacks either the insight or perhaps the courage to state that just maybe the problem isn’t the boys, but the institution they are being forced to attend. Likewise, the brutal hierarchies that develop in the schooling system are not typically present in home-schoolers or tribal societies.

In addition, the psychotropic medication of boys in particular, which is occurring at increasingly young age, is not even addressed in this film. The natural rambunctiousness and risk-taking nature of boys and young men is seen as a “disease” by modern psychiatric “medicine” and the modern education system. As a result American boys are being medicated with a cocktail of psychoactive chemicals, producing a host of incredibly harmful and dangerous results for themselves and others around them. Once again, not a peep about this from the producers of this film.

As far as the media is concerned, there is no doubt that the Hollywood/Madison Avenue culture has imposed a toxic artifice on us and poisoned our view of the world. However, we would do well to understand that this world of fantasy and its distorted, childish views of masculinity was created in large part to distract and pacify men. It was developed as a way of seducing men to buy into a life where they sell out their true masculine birthrights as sovereign and virile builders of culture and civilization for the pleasures and comforts of modernity and a mediocre existence.

The problem isn’t with any sort of “hyper-masculinity”, or men being aggressive and dominant and competitive- these are fundamental components of masculinity in its wholeness. The problem is that these qualities aren’t the complete picture of masculinity in its wholeness. We need to be able to take on and embody ALL of the masculine archetypes: Warrior, Magician, Lover, and King– and in their wholeness. The problem is that we don’t have a society that understands or facilitates this kind of holistic development in men.

Another problem is also that we are told that we either have the option of embodying this shadow masculinity or embodying the persona of the castrated “masculine feminist”. Personally, I reject both of these. I also find Joe Ehrmann’s statement in the film, “‘Be a man’ is one of the most destructive phrases in this culture” to be destructive in and of itself, and reminds me of my jaded single mother telling me to “Never grow up to be a man” (a phrase other friends who had single mothers heard). We have an epidemic of men who have been raised by women and have been made to feel guilty about being men, causing them to act in a manner that is weak and emotionally castrated. This needs to stop.

Lastly, the big problem here is that the society that has been created here in the western world in the last century, and is continuing to be constructed in the age of globalism and “political correctness”, is not one that is conducive to any sort of healthy masculinity at all whatsoever. It is one that leaves us as neurotic and destructive children seeking out the initiation into true manhood that we never were allowed. And to paraphrase an old African tribal saying, “If we do not initiate the young men, they will burn the village down.

What we need is a return to tribe. We need to get back to the natural rhythms of ourselves and of nature. We need to return to real brotherhood and purpose. We need strength- not just physical strength, but mental, emotional and spiritual strength. We need real initiation and ritual. We need to understand and work with the archetypes that define us.

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Photo courtesy of Wolves of Vinland/Wolves of Cascadia

True masculinity has always been the greatest threat to any established order or any outside group seeking dominance over a tribe. This is why such focus is placed on controlling men- making sure that men “behave” and “fall-in-line” in a subservient fashion. It is this sort of docile, domesticated, and castrated masculinity that we in the SSH wish to wash our hands of. However, these things cannot happen if we are fully invested in the artifice that does little more that suck our life energy and leave us as neurotic shells of what we could be. It’s time we find the strength to discard these illusions and distractions, so we can build something new.

Namaste and God Bless.

Additional Reading:

“Masculinity Is More Than a Mask” by Christina Hoff Summers

The Four Jungian Masculine Archetypes

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